Sunday, October 08, 2006


Sony Reader Poo-poo'd, Digital Natives, Google Books, Work with Acrobat Files... for Free!

Sony Reader gets a bad review in Business Week in an article with a great title: "Gutenberg 1, Sony 0"
...the reading experience is far inferior to that of a real book, partly because all concept of page design is lost... Files downloaded from a computer (via a usb cable) fare worse. I found that most pdf files were unreadable even in the largest type size, and I could not get Word files to download at all...Another big limitation is that the display can show only four shades of gray, thus restricting graphics to line drawings. This essentially disqualifies the Reader from one of its most attractive uses, textbooks...These deficits, however, pale compared to Sony's Connect bookstore (, which seems to be the work of someone who has never visited (AMZN )...The worst problem is that search, the essence of an online bookstore, is broken. An author search for Dan Brown turned up 84 books, three of them by Dan Brown, the rest by people named Dan or Brown, or sometimes neither...The problems of the store and software are fixable. But unless Sony repairs them fast, the Reader may be headed for the scrap heap of failed e-book readers.
This article is from the UK and is typical of what has been written lately
So, the bottom line is that the Business Week writer is biased because he actually used the product before writing about it :)

USA Today article about "digital natives," in other words, the Internet generation that is always connected... is now in college.
This part of the article got my attention:
Still, the ease with which young people can manipulate data, do online research or even play games may bode well for some types of careers. For example, video games may improve a surgeon's effectiveness in the operating room, according to a study released in April by researchers at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City in conjunction with the National Institute on Media and the Family in Minneapolis.
The study of 303 surgeons found a 20-minute warm-up of video gaming immediately before laparoscopic surgery improved performance. These findings support a smaller 2003 study by the same researchers that found doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made about 37% fewer mistakes in laparoscopic surgery and were 27% faster than doctors who didn't play.

It's not just students... half of users are 35 or older.
but this article in Advertising Age thinks that's a bad thing

In media mix discussions, public relations is easily forgotten, as everyone focuses on electronic media. This article offers a perspective on the new p.r. world.

I write (almost constantly it seems) that the savings rate data that is supposedly "so horrible" is meaningless. This article offers a good explanation
When typical consumers hear "savings"...they think about the portion of money stowed away for safekeeping in a bank or investment account... But to an economist, that emergency cash is not savings, but instead is considered "wealth."..."we see savings as the absence of consumption. Wealth is the accumulation of assets"... By many measures, even with a falling savings rate, U.S. consumers are wealthier than they have ever been.The official definition of what an economist calls "savings," according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, or BEA, is "disposable personal income less personal outlays." In other words, add up everyone's after-tax income and subtract everyone's expenses. The amount leftover is the national savings rate... According to the BEA, the national annual savings rate fell in 2005 to its lowest point since the Great Depression: negative 0.4 percent...Compare those numbers with 1985 when the national savings rate hit a record 11.1 percent and it is clear why economists are raising the warning flag...But at the same time, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., or FDIC, records show that American banks have more cash in their vaults than at any other point in recent history -- with $6.4 trillion deposited in the domestic offices of U.S. banks as of June. Of that $6.4 trillion, $5.23 trillion was in some type of interest-bearing account, such as a money market account, savings account or certificate of deposit... [E]conomists...say this disconnect between statistical measurements proves that the official method of calculating savings is itself a flawed measurement...calculations...reflect income earned during the production of some good or service during the period being measured. This strict definition means some big income sources get excluded..."Capital gains does not fit that definition, and therefore are excluded from the measure. ... Benefits from private pension plans are not counted as income because some portion of the benefits are paid from capital gains...

This story about how Google Books is stimulating sales of publishers sounds suspicious to me (note the lack of data). But it's also interesting in that this may be just like when the studios fought video rentals... only then to "discover" that this was the best way to sell their titles (and they also discovered a "post-theatrical release" market, and that there is definite age and income segmentation for various formats).

Finally! An industry event at a decent location! :)

Don't want to buy Acrobat? (I don't! It won't work with some of my peripherals!)
Of course, Acrobat Reader is free, and we'll soon be getting version 8.
You've got free alternatives for actually working with the files...
Office suite OpenOffice has PDF making built in --- works great for Powerpoint documents
Use PDF Creator for all the non-Office suite documents
PDF Split and Merge does exactly that for PDF files

RE: MySpacers.

comScore press release says nothing of the number of MySpace users. The numbers they report are for Unique Visitors. Visitors are different than Users and users are different from Accounts.
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